What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which parties to a conflict voluntarily participate in a joint effort to reach a settlement. A neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates the communication between the parties, addresses the barriers to resolution, and helps fashion a settlement to which all the parties can agree.
Mediation is a process in which parties to a conflict voluntarily participate in a joint effort to reach a settlement.
Why is Mediation Typically More Effective?
- You get a chance to fully discuss an issue before you agree on it.
- You can try out agreements before the judge makes the divorce final.
- You learn to communicate better, which makes new and old issues less likely to turn into arguments, or worse still, days in court.
- You can take time in between each appointment to think about whether or not a proposed solution makes sense.
Why is Mediation More Cost-Effective?
- It’s faster and more direct. Most people come to mediation willing to work on the issues and to learn how to communicate better. That willingness translates into a less expensive divorce because resolving a case is almost always cheaper than taking it to trial.
- Rather than speaking through lawyers, you speak with each other about your goals and issues (with the mediator’s help of course). Even if lawyers are involved with your mediation, they aren’t spending hours in court waiting for the judge to be free to hear your trial or billing for endless back-and-forth phone calls about the smallest details of your case.
How Does Mediation Differ from Arbitration?
In mediation the parties have more control of their future. Mediators are process experts, not decision-makers. A mediator will help parties to reach agreements, but cannot impose or dictate a settlement.
Is There a Role for My Attorney?
Your attorney can play an important role by advising you, clarifying legal issues, and helping to draw up agreements.
Do Mediators Receive a Percentage of the Settlement?
No. Mediators work on an hourly fee basis. This fee can be paid by one or both parties, in any sharing arrangement agreement. In some cases a fixed fee rate can be agreed upon.
If We Reach a Settlement, is it Legally Binding?
Yes. Either the mediation will close with a signed agreement or the attorneys for the parties will commit to ending the lawsuit with a formal settlement and release agreement.
How is Mediation Different from Collaborative Law?
Mediation is both complementary to and different from collaborative law. In collaborative law, attorneys for opposing parties agree to cooperate to find an agreeable settlement. This is accomplished by bringing both parties and their counsel together in joint meetings, which allows a greater likelihood of compromise than in adversarial litigation. Even in collaborative law, however, each attorney has a legally mandated responsibility to make it their first priority to protect their own client’s interests. Mediation, on the other hand, is a process that creates a neutral space for the exploration and resolution of issues to all parties’ satisfaction. Because mediators are not representing either party, they are free to have private meetings with each side when it is helpful and to engage in subtle diplomacy if that will further the progress of the negotiations. Mediators have a range of options not available to a lawyer with a client.
What if We Can’t Reach an Agreement?
You are free to return to litigation if you choose to do so. The mediation process you have gone through remains confidential and your mediator cannot be called to testify in court if you decide to return to litigation.